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BAYONNE: (Landes, Pyrénées-Atlantiques département, Basque) PDF Print E-mail

also see Bordeaux and Peyrehorade
43°29′37″N, 1°28′30″W .

Together with nearby Anglet, Biarritz, Saint-Jean-de-Luz, and several smaller communes, Bayonne forms an urban area with 178,965 inhabitants at the 1999 census, 40,078 of whom lived in the city of Bayonne proper (44,300 as of 2004 estimates). This city and commune of southwest France at the confluence of the Nive and Adour rivers in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques département, of which it is a sous-préfecture with a population of 44,000, Bayonne is the main town of Labourd in the French Basque Country. Known for its fine chocolate, produced in the town for 500 years, and Bayonne ham, and Izarra, the liqueur made in bright green or yellow colours distilled locally, Bayonne is known for bull-fighting. This fortified city was divided into Great and Little Bayonne and into the suburb of St. Esprit, separated from Bayonne by the rivers Adour and Nive. In the 3rd century CE, the area was a Roman castrum, named Lapurdum, a military site, but not a port. In 840, the Vikings appeared before Lapurdum and in 842 launched a large-scale inland offensive and settled outside the city on the river bank. Bayonne became a key place on the route between the Adour and Ebro Rivers, serving as a link between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. This commercial route was the main goal of Danish invaders in France in order to easily reach Tortosa, the main slave marketplace in Europe. By the 12th century, the city was an important port with a mixed Basque and Gascon population. As part of Aquitaine, England ruled from 1151 to 1452. Bayonne was a key commercial center at the southern end of the English kingdom, but its importance waned when the French Charles VII took the city at the end of the Hundred Years' War. The Adour river changed course shortly afterwards, leaving Bayonne without access to the sea. The French, realizing Bayonne's strategic site near the Spanish border, dug a canal in 1578to redirect the river through the city. Bayonne endured numerous sieges from the Plantagenets until the end of the First French Empire in 1814. In the 17th century, large fortifications and the Citadel were built in and around the city. These proved crucial in 1813 and 1814 when Wellington's army besieged the city in the Napoleonic Wars, taking it using a bridge of ships across the Adour to position artillery around the city. Bayonne's location close to the border and also within the Basque Country straddling both France and Spain gave it a privileged commercial position. Basque sailors traveled the world, bringing back cinnamon and riches from piracy, whaling, and cod. An armaments industry developed, giving the world the "bayonet". Jewish refugees from the Spanish Inquisition in 1560 brought new trades, most notably chocolate-making, which is still important in Bayonne. Spanish Basques also sought refuge in Bayonne in the 20th century during Francisco Franco's repression. A Jewish community existed first at St. Esprit, founded after the expulsion of the Jews from the Iberian Peninsula by fugitives from Navarre and Portugal who submitted to baptism. On their arrival they were styled "New Christians" or the "Portuguese nation." Outwardly, Catholic, in their homes they remained Jewish. Some arrived about 1520 in St. Esprit, St. Jean de Luz, and Biarritz. Several families newly settled in Bordeaux were expelled in 1597 at the instigation of their coreligionists and established themselves at St. Esprit, Peyrehorade, Bidache, and La Bastide Clairence where they remained, although occasionally disturbed by a never executed decree of expulsion like that of Henry IV. Their status was regulated by a series of letters patent from Henry II (1550, 1574, 1580), confirmed by Louis XIV in 1654, Louis XV in 1723, and from Louis XVI in 1777. In the middle of the 17th century, these "Portuguese Jews" stopped pretending to be Catholic. Until the French Revolution, there were almost incessantly quarrels and suits with the city of Bayonne due to its refusal to grant them the right of sojourn and permission to carry on retail trade. Importers of chocolate, merchants, and owners of a shipping company, they occupied an important place in a city with persecutions numerous. The National Assembly in 1789 accorded them, as well as the Jews of Bordeaux and Avignon, the rights of citizenship, the first in France. After this, they settled into Bayonne life and acquired property there; but the majority continued to reside, and still do, at St. Esprit. During the Revolution, when synagogues were closed, the Jews of Bidache and La Bastide Clairence established themselves at Peyrehorade and St. Esprit. On the organization of the French consistories, St. Esprit-Bayonne was attached to that of Bordeaux. Numerous small houses of worship existed and were replaced in 1837 with a Grand Temple dedicated under LOUIS-PHILIPPE to shouting of "Long live the King!" In 1844, the community was raised to a consistory with its seat at St. Esprit, its rabbi receiving the title of grand rabbi. In 1857, Bayonne became the center for the consistory. The Hébéra continued to administer charity and to care for the cemetery. In towns near Bayonne, like Bidache and La Bastide Clairence, the ancient cemeteries are sole witness to the existence of communities now extinct. The Jewish population of Bayonne numbered 1,100 souls in 1728, 1,000 in 1753, 1,100 in 1808, 1,200 in 1828, 1,293 in 1844. As the result of serious social and economic disturbances, the population has since begun to diminish. Some important names of Bayonne were FURTADO, PEREYRE, DA SILVA, CASSIN, and the family of President Pierre MENDES-FRANCE. The Jewish community was destroyed during World War II. The Community since 1962 was reinforced by the arrival of Jews from the Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, who form a harmonious ensemble with what remains of the ancient Portuguese Community. The community numbered about 200 families in 2006, unsystematic from Dax to Hendaye. This community and their representatives do their best to remain faithful to the education of ancient commandment:"SUPPORT AND FULFIL" [sic: Be fruitful and multiply?] Aquitaine département. Contact the synagogue, Consistoire de Bayonne, built in 1837 at 35, rue Maubec, tel. Some of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in France are located in villages about 30 kilometers east of Bayonne. For access, inquire at the Consistoire de Bayonne. After the Jews of St. Esprit began to enjoy a little liberty, they ceased to bury their dead in Catholic cemeteries and to have their children baptized and their marriages solemnized in the Church. In 1654, they bought a burying-ground, which was expropriated by the state in 1680. also has general town information and photos. [January 2008]

Bidache Cemetery: Established in 1690.  [January 2008]

Labastide-Clairence cemetery: 16th century. [January 2008]

Payrehorade Cemetery: Established in 1628 and re-established in 1737 on Rue des Chapons [January 2008]

St.-Esprit  Cemetery: 4,500 graves in cemetery in St.-Etienne section of St.-Esprit established in 1660. [January 2008]

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